…Far from royalty.

Archive for the ‘Dirt Cheap Decor’ Category

My New Pinterest Inspired Desk

I was inspired by Ashley at Domestic Imperfection when I saw her post for an Awesome Stenciled Paisley Table.

I knew I had to have one.  I scoured Craigslist, and found a $10 table that had been posted over a month ago.  On a whim, I emailed and asked if it was still available– it was.  Here is the before pic.  It doesn’t look like much, but I saw its potential.  $10 Craigslist Find

I talked my hubby into driving over the next morning on our way to have lunch with his family for Father’s Day.  When we got home that evening, I promptly got out the sander and had him help me position it on our workbench.  In no time, I had it stripped down to bare wood.  I dug around in my paint stash and found a partial can of Minwax Jacobean stain. Jacobean stain  I put one of my husband’s old socks on my hand, and used it to stain the top of the table.  I let it dry for about an hour and then I put another coat of stain on.

I looked all over town and online for a large paisley stencil.  I loved the one Ashley used, but it was a whopping $54, and I wasn’t prepared to spend that much on a stencil.  I’ve never used a stencil on furniture, so that sounded a little daunting.  Lowe’s had some Martha Stewart brand stencils, but no paisley,  Michael’s also didn’t have a paisley. So armed with a 40% of coupon, I went to Hobby Lobby.  There was no paisley there, but I found a gorgeous large repeat pattern for $16.99, and my coupon brought it down to $11.03.  Whew, much better.

I had painted my laundry room in the last year, so I had some light blue wall paint left over.  I quickly read the stencil directions, which aren’t that clear.  So I read them again.  Something about a straight edge, and lining up the little arrows on the stencil for the repeat.  How hard could this be?  I used the edge of the table as my straight edge.  That worked great for the first three times, but then I quickly realized everything was slanting slightly down and left, which meant the right side of my table top was going to have a bald spot.  So I faked it, and moved the stencil over on the next one.  Then after I was finished with the top, I went back and filled in some of the blank areas with little curly cues here and there.  Every time I used the stencil, I hung it up and let it completely dry before I used it again.  It was a little time consuming, but worth the effort.  The one time I was impatient, I got paint on my table and had to scrape it off and clean up the mess.

I let the table top dry and began sanding the legs.  I didn’t sand them all the way to bare wood, basically just knocked the shine off with a palm sander and 220 grit sand paper.  I primed the legs and let them dry, then did several light coats of blue.  After drying overnight, I did another light sanding, and another light coat of blue.  Use thin, light coats of paint for the best results.  Don’t ask me why I know this, just take my word for it.  I did a light coat of spray on polyurethane over the stenciling, but I wasn’t happy with the results of the spray.  So after drying for 24 hours,  I lightly sanded with steel wool, and flipped the table over.  I sanded the “skirt” around the table and primed and painted it blue, to match the legs.

Rustoleum Painter's Touch Aqua

Aqua Spray Paint

After the legs and skirt were dry, I put the legs back on the table and had my husband help me flip it over and stand it up.  I used a damp rag to wipe off any excess dust from the table top, and then used a brush on polyurethane clear coat.  After two heavy coats, this is what my new desk looks like.Image

I absolutely love it.

Closeup of stencil detail

Ashley has much better step by step directions, so I highly recommend using hers.

Cost breakdown

Craigslist Table $10

Hobby Lobby Stencil $11.03

Two cans of Painter’s Touch Aqua paint and 1 can of primer $12.57

Small can of polyurethane $7

Jacobean Stain – free

Leftover wall paint for stencil design – free

Total cost  $40.60


Thrift Store Decor

This morning started out just like every other Monday morning.  Pancakes with chocolate chips, “brush your teeth and hair!”, and “Oh, Mommy! I need to tell you something!”  This something was “I left my (3) library books at Grama and Grandad’s house.”  It wasn’t in my plans to drive the 45+ miles to go get them, but what can you do?  Fortunately, I have an awesome father-in-law, who met me halfway, so I didn’t have make the entire drive.  While I was sitting in the Wendy’s parking lot, waiting for him to arrive, I remembered a thrift store a few blocks down.  I hardly ever get there, but there is always something I can’t live without.

I was in the mood to craft, but not ready to take on a huge project, like my bathroom makeover.  I perused the junk aisle, as my sister and I affectionately call it, and found several things I can work into the new cottage style I’m going for.

Thrift Store crafts

$7 for all of this

When I finally made it back home, I took the plate, the bowl and the bud vase, washed and bleached them, and permanently fused them together with epoxy. (I  have a new found love for epoxy, and all its bonding magic.)  This is what I came up with…

Mismatched plate, bowl and bud vase

Is now an awesome chip and dip plate!

White plate, bowl and bud vase

Thrift store junk...

I also found a white ceramic container.  It probably was the insert to a small crock pot, but I’m really not sure.  I loved that it was big, and white, and cottage-y, but wasn’t sure what to do with it.  It could possibly be a planter, or something to hold fruit or after school snacks.  One of my favorite Chirstmas presents was all new kitchen utensils. They were too jumbled in the container I had them in;  so, for now, it is being used to store utensils.

crock pot insert

Utensil storage crock

I also found this cute apple-shaped bowl.  Perfect for after school snacks.

After school snack bowl

Perfect for after school snacks.

Hall Bath Makeover – Before

I am in love with all things cottage-y… if that’s even a word.  I am addicted to DIY blogs about home decorating/design/remodeling, especially when done on a shoestring budget.  Bloggers make it seem somewhat do-able (read:  affordable), for me any way.  I’ve been watching posts about beadboard and board & batten, and obsessing over them.

We live in a cookie cutter house, that looks like every other cookie cutter house in the neighborhood.  Other than paint, I really haven’t put my “stamp” on it.  I didn’t think we would be living here 11 years later, so I didn’t really want to personalize the house.  I’m a home stager, and it is my job to make things neutral, so that anyone could move into a space and love it.  Well, I’m bored with neutral!  I’m not moving, so I want to put my spin on things.

One of my first projects will be beadboard wainscotting in the hall/girls’ bathroom.

DIY Beadboard Before

DIY Beadboard - Before

Hall Bath Makeover Before

Hall Bath Before Beadboard

I did some organizing work for a friend, and we bartered for stuff.  I love stuff.  She was de-cluttering, and I was loving it!  I ended up with several 1/2 sheets of faux wainscotting.  I think it’s made of luan or masonite or  something of the sort.  After I get it on the walls, trim it out and paint it white, no one will be the wiser.  I have most of what I need, except the trim mouldings, and paintable caulk; so it should be a fairly inexpensive and easy project.  I’ve measured all the trim pieces, and I plan on having them cut in store.  There will only be a few straight cuts on the beadboard, and I can totally do that.  I will pre-paint, and nail them up.  Sounds easy enough.  We’ll see.  I am also planning to put in a wider baseboard and change out the trim on the door, so that it matches my cottage style.  The vanity will either get a new coat of paint, or a dark stain… I haven’t decided which yet.

Hall Bath Before Beadboard Wainscotting

Vanity Wall Before Beadboard

Hall Bath Vanity Before

Vanity Before Makeover

Today’s Macy-ism

After my staging partner (Nikki) and I spent the last two days looking for things to stage a house on a shoe string budget, Macy (4) was finished with us.  Stick a fork in her, she was done.

Tonight at bedtime Macy gave her Daddy hugs and kisses and went through the nightly routine of “Goodnight Daddy, love you, see you in the morning.”

He said, “What are you and Mommy doing tomorrow?”

“I don’t know.  But I’m NOT GOING JUNKIN’!”

Roadkill Rescue

It’s that time again….yep, that’s right…bulk trash week.  I’m a rubber-necker, and a “don’t think I won’t do a u-turn in the middle of a residential street” kinda girl.  I dropped Lillie off at school this morning and noticed several neighbors had large trash piles out on the curb.  Well, to the average person, it’s trash;  to me it’s “Oh my goodness, what were they thinking?!?!”

I made my way down the first street of my neighborhood and saw the coolest ladies arm chair.Ladies Arm Chair  The fabric looked great, so there must be something seriously wrong with it.  Being the nosey trash digger inspectigator* that I am, I had to see for myself.  I turned my car around (in an alley this time), and pulled up beside my possible patient.  The chair was setting on top of tree limbs, plastic landscape pots and a rotten water hose.  I set it flat on the sidewalk and it was sturdy–no broken bones, legs, or back.  The only visible damage was where someone’s puppy chewed up the corners of the skirt.  Pssssh, like that’s enough to dissuade me!

Hmm, will it fit in my trunk?  Of course not, , there’s always too much crap awesome stuff in there.  I managed to lay it on its back, and close the trunk down below the seat base.  It was steady enough for the short (2 two streets over) drive home.

I pull into the alley, pass my driveway and get ready to back in.  Macy, 4, who was doing a ride along, says, “Umm, you just passed our house.”  “Yeah, I know.  I do that on occasion.”  After unloading, I immediately vacuumed it with the shop vac.  It’s in great condition, except for the skirt.  Then I realize, said puppy also used the skirt for target practice.  Fortunately, the dog must have been vertically challenged, as the skirt was all it was able to hit.

I thought about taking the front skirt off (where the damage was) and exchanging it with the skirt on the back.  I lifted up the flap, and there was plenty of fabric tucked under the sides, so I wouldn’t even have to do that.  Given the fact that the chair’s skirt has been used as a fire hydrant, I decided to nix it altogether.  I found a pair of pliers and a screwdriver and began to operate.  I carefully worked the staples out.  Much to my surprise, the rest of it is in great shape.  And I loved the new “cleaner” lines.  I used the upholstery attachments on my carpet cleaner and gave it a once over and left it out in the sun to dry.  I think this one has made a full recovery!After Rescue

Oh, and just in case you think I’m making up words, spell check didn’t flag inspectigator.*  Rubber-necker, however, was a different story. 


I was featured on

Nail Head Trim Headboard

I’m famous for half started/never finished projects.  It’s not something I’m proud of, it just is, or rather, I just am.  My sister came to hang out with me not long ago, and we tackled some of those never started projects– we actually started AND finished some of them.

I found an old 5 panel door on Craigslist for $15.Wooden door headboard  My original intent was to make a king size headboard for my bed.  I’m not really into stripping paint, so 4 years later, it was still in my garage.  While in Hancock Fabrics one day, I came across their most awesome section of clearanced fabric remnants.  I found 2 1/2 yards of lined and lightly batted micro suede for $4 yd.  A little birdie told me to buy it all, so I did.Future Amazing Headboard

I was checking out some of the amazing posts at Knockoff Decor, and stumbled onto this amazing knockoff.  I knew what I had to do.

My favorite sister Donna, not to be confused with my favorite sister Claudia, used to have an upholstery shop.  She has the most amazing things left over from her business.  One of those things just so happened to be nailhead trim.  So I emailed for backup.  “We need to get together and do some projects…oh and bring the nailhead trim.”  Not exactly word for word, but close.

The door was 74″ long, perfect for my new headboard, so I whipped out my fabric remnant and my staple gun (have I mentioned my love of staples lately?).  And 187 staples later, give or take a few, I have the beginnings of an amazing headboard.A good start to an amazing nailhead trim headboard  I flipped it over, got out a yard stick and a piece of chalk and drew a line where I wanted the nailhead trim to go.  I commenced to hammering.  Fortunately, the trim is on a roll and 90% of the nailheads are fake, and I only had to hammer in about 30 of them.  I’m convinced if I had to hammer each one individually, I would still be hammering this dream headboard would never have come to fruition.

Ok, I have a headboard, now legs…need legs.  Must. have. legs.  I move the furniture around to much to mount it to the wall.  I scrounged around in the garage through my hubby’s half finished projects and found a couple of 1 x 4″ scraps.  I measured from the floor to the top of my mattress and subtracted a couple of inches, since I didn’t want the bottom of the headboard to show.  I cut the 1 x 4″s and painted them chocolate brown with leftover spray paint.  I screwed them to the back of the door and voila, a headboard!  A beautiful, so not $600— but looks just as good, if not better, headboard.My King Size Knockoff of West Elm's Nailhead Trim Headboard  I LOVE IT!  I made it all by myself.  My sister watched, and sometimes coached, but she made me do it all by myself.  Yay me!  I couldn’t be happier with the results.

Cost of the total project, $12 for fabric.  I think there has to be some statute of limitation on the cost of building materials sitting unused in the garage…say like, oh… 4 years.  Either way, $12 or $27, I’ll take it!

Deserving Design

We all know someone who gives selflessly, never asking for anything in return.  My niece, Lalainia, is one of those people.  She’s a penny-pinching, coupon-cutting, money-saving wife and mom.  She’s mastered the art of ‘FREE’.  Thanks to coupons and buy one get one offers, she has a stock pile of laundry soap, haircare, toothpaste, and Hamburger Helper.  In addition to knowing how to stretch a paycheck, she is kind and patient.  She has taken on the role of caregiver, for her father-in-law, who suffers from dementia, and changes more than her share of poopy pants–and it’s not always her 3 year old.

About a week ago, her family moved to be closer to her brother and sister-in-law, so they can help take care of James, her father-in-law.  She sent her mom (my favorite sister) an email asking if she had seen any blogs on painting furniture, and what she knew about it.  Donna, forwarded the email to me, along with a link to a blog on painting furniture.  I responded, with “I’m up for a project, let’s have a sanding party!”  Friday night worked out for all of us.  Originally, that’s all it was going to be, sanding and trying out a new painting technique on Lalainia’s mismatched garage sale and hand-me-down furniture.  You know, let her be the guinea pig.

I remembered Lalainia had recently posted on Facebook a photo of a blue and brown comforter set she liked.  I had a blue and brown set in my staging inventory that wasn’t being used so I rounded it up, along with a single curtain panel, some throw pillows and several random pieces of artwork.  I invited myself to come stay the weekend and help work on her furniture.  A quick trip to Michael’s for some scrapbook paper ($5), and Home Depot for paint, primer, sandpaper and a bag of brushes ($39) and I head out.

My sister and I met there Friday afternoon, had a Hamburger Helper dinner, and proceded to get to work.  We started by rearranging the bedroom furniture.  Then we emptied dresser drawers (she had just unpacked a day before) and hauled the furniture out onto the back deck.  We set up an assembly line of sanding, and then moved out into the yard for priming and painting.  After a couple of hours we had the biggest part of the work done!  We worked until we couldn’t see to paint (by headlights) anymore.  Lalainia and I got up the next morning and wiped everything down and gave it one final coat of paint.  I must say, we did a pretty good job for painting after dark.

My youngest daughter wanted to spend the day with her cousin, so Lalainia and I dropped her off at my favorite sister’s house.  Donna used to have an upholstery shop, so she has quite a few materials left over.  Without hesitation, she took us out to the shop, opened the doors and told us to take whatever we needed.  (Now you know why she’s my favorite sister.)  🙂  We looked around, it was hot and dusty and no one really wanted to be in there.  That is, until I spied the perfect headboard for Lalainia’s new master suite.  Well, I saw it as this beautiful padded upholstered headboard.  Lalainia saw it as an old dusty door with water damage on the bottom.  Work with me here.  Donna knew where I was going with this (because she had just helped me upholster a door for my new headboard), so she asked Lalainia to go inside and measure the width of the bed.  60″.  The perfect queen headboard.  We were able to cut the 12″ off at the bottom and get rid of the warped and water damaged portion.  I found an 8 foot 1×4″ in the shop, and since the offer had been extended, I wanted it, too!  We cut the 1×4″ in half and nailed it to the back of the door for legs.  I scrounged around in Donna’s old upholstery stash and found a piece of black vinyl that would make the most amazing padded headboard.  She also happened to have extra batting, and plenty of staples.  I like staples.  A few minutes later, ta-da!  A new, custom-made, totally free (or gleaned, as my favorite blogger, Nike, would say) headboard!

We made a quick trip to GW Boutique for a $2.99 bedskirt in the perfect shade of dark brown.  She needed extra storage, so we also picked up a set of $12 bed risers from Walmart, so she could store things under the bed, and a 5 pack of 11×14″ poster board, and a peel stick wall art (Always Kiss Me Goodnight!) from Dollar Tree, and we were off.  The furniture was dry and ready to be brought back in and put the room together.

After bringing the furniture in and hanging a couple of pieces of artwork, she still needed just a little pop of color over the night stands.  We raided her $1 photo frame collection, and came up with 4 matching frames.  I pulled out the cardstock I picked up at Michael’s for $.69 each and the DT poster board.  I used Lalainia’s scrapbook cutter to make custom photo mats and the cardstock for custom artwork.  It was just what the room needed as a finishing touch.  The sign over the bed was a brown bulletin frame with hooks.  We removed the hooks, painted the frame black and the cardboard back blue, and used the peel and stick “Always Kiss Me Goodnight!” stickers for a one of a kind art piece.

The whole room redesign cost about $125, including the bedding I had orginally found new on Craigslist for $50.  She loves her new space and posted on Facebook  “We made her a hotel bedroom, and it wasn’t one of those $29.95 a night ones either!”    Lalainia finally has a place to call her own, somewhere she can unwind at the end of a mentally and physically exhausting day–she deserves that.